SoundStage! HiFi’s “Keepers” feature by Richard Freed has a wonderful feature on orchestra recordings and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Here’s a bit about the Fresh! Label and the Strauss recording.
“What is truly different here is that the label in question, Reference Recordings, had built its reputation entirely in the realm of the audiophile, which is to say, on its own engineering and production skills, which have little or no direct involvement in this project. Tam Henderson, who founded RR and produced most of its sessions, and Keith Johnson, his brilliant engineer, developed approaches and techniques that yielded virtually unparalleled spaciousness and all-round realism. Johnson, in fact, was one of the creators of HDCD (High Definition Compatible Digital), a process simpler than SACD and regarded by more than a few experienced listeners as a superior option. …
“The disc at hand, a collection of Strauss tone poems (Don Juan, Death and Transfiguration, Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks) performed by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra under its music director Manfred Honeck, is part of a recently instituted series called “FRESH! from RR.” As RR’s vice president Marcia Martin stated in a press release announcing this series, it is made up of recordings not produced by the RR team itself, but RR does “endeavor to have input prior to recording, and to have a hands-on role in editing, post-production and/or mastering phases of production . . .” Releases in this series have catalog numbers with the letter prefix FR, to distinguish them from the company’s own productions, which continue to be assigned the familiar RR prefix. The Pittsburgh Strauss collection, FR-707SACD, was produced in the indicated format by the Boston-based firm Soundmirror; one of RR’s post-production touches was to add HDCD to the CD stereo layer.”
Read Richard Freed’s full piece, “Pittsburgh Weighs In” at www.soundstagehifi.com.